a perfect problem

I can’t stop looking at this nest.

I am in awe of the perfectly built, small cup-shaped nest. I wonder how a bird does this, how it knows how to do it. The eggs are beautiful, and all would be just fine if it weren’t for that larger grey speckled egg in there. I’m quite certain from what I’ve read in the last day that the nest and blue eggs belong to some house finches. I have seen at least one pair at our feeder quite often. The other egg is from a cowbird, one that only lays her eggs in other nests and does not raise her own young.

Sometimes the cowbird will come back to check on her egg(s) and if her own egg has been removed, she may retaliate by removing the finch eggs from the nest. If all the eggs remain in the nest, the cowbirds hatch first and are much larger than the finches. The baby cowbird often wins out over the finches. At the same time, finches eat seeds and fruit while the cowbirds prefer insects, so while the finches are attempting to be good adoptive parents to the orphan, often to the neglect of their own babies, they are unknowingly feeding it the wrong food. It seems to be a no win situation.

I suppose the best thing to do is to let nature take its course and see what happens. I’ve read it’s illegal to remove the cowbird egg anyway, which strikes me as ridiculous since I can’t imagine how it could be enforced. We may have to set up the trail camera near the nest to see how this potential drama unfolds. I can’t stop pondering how something so perfect, something that represents new life, could possibly present such a problem.

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3 Responses to a perfect problem

  1. Steve says:

    I can’t stop thinking about how the cowbird must have voted for PBO.

  2. Jill says:

    We had this happen a few years ago. I think the nesting bird was a chipping sparrow. She built a similar, perfect and beautiful little nest in our bush. The cowbird found it and laid her egg. Later we found a dead little baby bird on our sidewalk ( right under the bush in front of our house). That still bothers me. I take it as a reminder to take good care of my own nest. I’m on a birds/nesting symbolism kick right now. Our nesting robin this year lost her eggs to something – we don’t know what. Reminds me of the fragility of life, especially our precious children. I’ll post my pic of that…

  3. jen says:

    Good thoughts Jill. I hadn’t paid that much attention to birds, nests, or any other wildlife before we moved here and I am finding lots of analogies and lessons.